Harry and Meghan say past wrongs of Commonwealth need to be acknowledged

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex warned that the Commonwealth's past wrongs need to be acknowledged to be able to move forward as they joined a discussion on justice and equal rights.

Harry and Meghan both took part in the video call with young leaders in one of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust's (QCT) weekly sessions set up in response to the growing Black Lives Matter movement.

The duke, whose grandmother the Queen is head of the Commonwealth, last week outlined his personal commitment to tackling institutional racism.

Harry said: "When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past.

"So many people have done such an incredible job of acknowledging the past and trying to right those wrongs, but I think we all acknowledge there is so much more still to do.

"It's not going to be easy and in some cases it's not going to be comfortable, but it needs to be done, because, guess what, everybody benefits."

Meghan also touched on the Commonwealth's past, saying: "In that self reflection, it's acknowledging whatever mistakes we've all made, right?

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January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-520/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 1/7/20 Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan visit Canada House in London, England, UK.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced Wednesday that they were stepping back from their role as "senior members of the royal family"� and would work to become financially independent. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex look at a special exhibition of art by Indigenous Canadian artist, Skawennati, in the Canada Gallery during their visit to Canada House, central London, UK on January 7, 2020. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Photos/Abaca Press/TNS/Sipa USA)
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-107/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 6/19/18 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex at Royal Ascot Day One at Ascot Racecourse. (Berkshire, England, UK)
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-03/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 2/7/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex at the Endeavour Fund Awards Ceremony held at Drapers' Hall. (London, England, UK)
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-375/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 7/5/18 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle The Duchess of Sussex attend the Your Commonwealth Youth Challenge reception at Marlborough House. (London, England, UK)
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-09/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 7/14/19 Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan at the premiere of "The Lion King" in London, England, UK.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 9/23/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex visit Cape Town, South Africa.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 7/14/19 Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan at the premiere of "The Lion King" in London, England, UK.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-03/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 2/7/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex at the Endeavour Fund Awards Ceremony held at Drapers' Hall. (London, England, UK)
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 2/24/19 Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan visit Lycée Qualifiant Grand Atlas and meet students and teachers in Asni Town, Atlas Mountains, Morocco.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 9/23/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex visit Cape Town, South Africa.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-09/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 10/22/18 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex visit Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island in Australia.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 2/24/19 Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan visit Lycée Qualifiant Grand Atlas and meet students and teachers in Asni Town, Atlas Mountains, Morocco.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 9/24/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex visit Cape Town, South Africa.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 9/24/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex visit Cape Town, South Africa.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-375/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 5/8/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex with their baby son, who was born on Monday morning May 6th, at a photocall in St. George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Berkshire.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 12/25/18 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend Christmas church services at St. Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham Estate.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-03/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 2/7/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex at the Endeavour Fund Awards Ceremony held at Drapers' Hall. (London, England, UK)
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-03/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 7/14/19 Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan at the premiere of "The Lion King" in London, England, UK.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 10/2/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex visit Johannesburg, South Africa.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 9/24/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex visit Cape Town, South Africa.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 10/2/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex visit Johannesburg, South Africa.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 9/23/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex visit Cape Town, South Africa.
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-22/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 6/9/18 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex, The Duchess of Sussex and members of The Royal Family at the Trooping The Colour ceremonies as The Queen marks her official birthday - including an inspection of the troops from the Household Division, the Horseguards Parade March in Whitehall and watching a fly-past from the balcony at Buckingham Palace. (London, England, UK)
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 2/25/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex during their visit to Morocco tour The Andalusian Gardens. They viewed traditional Moroccan arts and crafts on display in the walled public gardens amid exotic plants, flowers and fruit trees. They met with young social entrepreneurs and discussed youth empowerment in Morocco. (Rabat, Morocco)
January 20th 2020 - Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan will no longer use "royal highness" titles and will not receive public money for their royal duties. Additionally, as part of the terms of surrendering their royal responsibilities, Harry and Meghan will repay the $3.1 million cost of taxpayers' money that was spent renovating Frogmore Cottage - their home near Windsor Castle. - January 9th 2020 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex intend to step back their duties and responsibilities as senior members of the British Royal Family. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 2/25/19 Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are received by HM The King of Morocco in an Audience today at the Royal Palace, Rabat, Morocco.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex leaving after their visit to Canada House, central London, to meet with Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette, as well as staff, to thank them for the warm hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada. Picture date: Tuesday January 7, 2020. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire PA
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"So if we look at the Commonwealth, I know part of the conversation we're going to explore later on is looking at the history of that."

The roots of the Commonwealth – a voluntary association of 54 nations – stretch back to Britain's colonial past and the British Empire.

Nicola Brentnall, chief executive of the QCT, has written that the organisation is looking at "how the Commonwealth's past – of colonialism, of the subjugation of peoples and the ongoing legacy of such historic injustice" should shape its identity and future".

Former Suits star Meghan also stressed it was important to focus on individual actions.

"What have we done in our past that we put our hand up? This is a moment of reckoning where so many people go 'You know what, I need to own that. Maybe I didn't do the right thing there'," the duchess said.

The couple, who were speaking from Los Angeles, joined Chrisann Jarrett, co-founder of We Belong, which is led by young people who migrated to the UK, and Alicia Wallace, director of Equality Bahamas.

Also on the July 1 chat were Mike Omoniyi, founder of The Common Sense Network and Abdullahi Alim, who leads the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers.

Harry addressed the issue of unconscious bias, sharing his own perspective.

"We can't deny or ignore the fact that all of us have been brought up and educated to see the world differently," he said.

"However, once you start to realise that there is that bias there, then you need to acknowledge it, you need to do the work to be able to become more aware."

The duchess, who became the first mixed race person to marry a senior British royal, highlighted the "quiet moments" of unconscious bias as a key issue, drawing on her own "personal experience".

"It's not even in the big moments right? It's in the quiet moments where racism and unconscious bias lies and hides and thrives," she said.

She added: "So much of what I've come to the understanding of, especially in learning even more about it of late, and obviously having had personal experience with it as well, in people's complacency, they're complicit."

After the Sussexes stepped down as a senior working royals, Harry had to leave his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.

But he and Meghan retained their posts as president and vice-president of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust.

Harry and Meghan
Harry and Meghan during the discussion on justice and equal rights (The Queen's Commonwealth Trust/PA)

Harry told those taking part as they discussed the drive towards a more equal society: "This change is needed and it's coming."

He added: "The optimism and the hope that we get is from listening and speaking to people like you, because there is no turning back now, everything is coming to a head.

"Solutions exist and change is happening far quicker than it ever has done before."

The group discussed the Black Lives Matter movement and their own take on radical change.

Asked by Meghan what the solutions were, Ms Jarrett replied: "We all need to be in this for the long run.

"This is not a hashtag... it's about being persistent with the demand that change must come and we're not going to stop until it comes."

Meghan spoke of how equality was a fundamental human right.

"We're going to have to be a little uncomfortable right now, because it's only in pushing through that discomfort that we get to the other side of this and find the place where a high tide raises all ships," she said.

"Equality does not put anyone on the back foot, it puts us all on the same footing – which is a fundamental human right."

At one point, Harry made his wife laugh by saying: "I'm ageing, right. I'm 35 already."

Meghan remarked: "That's not ageing", with Harry adding: "It is ageing compared to these guys."

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